With the second season of Overwatch League set to kick off on February 14, the Toronto Defiant will have to wait a little longer to enter the fray. The Defiant are set to debut as the opening match of February 15, verses a hungry Houston Outlaws squad searching to find their Season Two identity. Houston is just the first of several tough matchups the Toronto squad will face early on in the first stage of the Overwatch League.
With sought after veteran flex support Se-hyeon “Neko” Park set to serve his three game suspension to start Stage 1, the Defiant will be without a key part of their composition against veteran and new talent alike. The rest of the Toronto roster will certainly be prepped for these opponents despite the odds stacked against them. Naturally, the opposition will surely look to exploit the young team’s weakness by any means necessary.
Week 1: Houston Outlaws 2/15
After an uneventful off season without many roster moves, Houston’s roster resembles much of their middling Season 1 squad. Following their strong seven win performance in Stage one, Houston did not finish above .500 until Stage 4.
Houston lacked a clear choice at the meta dominant Tracer selection throughout the inaugural season. Jacob “JAKE” Lyon displayed a mastery of Junkrat in the projectile DPS role, while Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin was considered the most dominant Widow Duelist in the league. Neither could contend with the top Tracer talent the league had to offer however. Newly acquired and flexible DPS Dante “Danteh” Cruz from the San Francisco Shock fills the now not so needed Tracer role.
Currently, the triple support, triple tank composition GOATs seen throughout the 2018 World Cup remains a viable strategy for some teams. Main tank Austin “Muma” Wilmot highlights the Outlaws tank lineup with Alexandre “SPREE” Vanhomwegen and Matt “coolmatt” Iorio rounding off potentially the strongest aspect of Houston’s roster.
Considering all the roster movement cross the league, some fans may be wondering if they can expect a similar middling season for the Outlaws. Their established synergy could prove an asset many newly formed teams would then be working towards. Amid Neko’s absence, Toronto could find themselves in a more difficult matchup than anticipated.
Week 2: Atlanta Reign 2/22
The Atlanta reign sport the most well scouted roster of any new new teams entering Season 2. Their roster is highlighted by the dominant Element Mystic tank duo of Hyun-jun “Pokpo” Park and Dong-hyeong “DACO” Seo.
The established tanks will anchor the formidable frontline protecting Petja “Masaa” Kantanen and the German Zenyatta standout, Steven “Kodak” Rosenberger. Such a formidable core helps lead a potentially leathal DPS lineup, including the Danish hitscan Daniel “dafran” Francesca.
On paper, this roster looks complete. A strong balanced core with a flexibility to balance it’s risks. With impressive coaching to follow up their already impressive management and public relations departments, Atlanta is shaping up to be an impressive contender.
Week 2: Los Angeles Valiant 2/24
The Stage 4 champions square off with Toronto for their third match of the season. If the Defiant weren’t tested in their first two matchups, they certainly will be now. Los Angeles boasts one of the most balanced rosters in the league, but the departure of star DPS Terence “SoOn” Tarlier certainly downgrades its damage potential.
Team captain and main support Scott “Custa” Kennedy’s superior shot calling leads a flexible backline boasting some interesting flexability. With SoOn’s departure, flex support Young-seo “KariV” Park has been given an opportunity to display his talent in a damage position. His effectiveness on hitscan heroes will be an advantage for the Valiant, while Min-chul “Izayaki” Kim fills the flex support role for LA.
The answers to the team’s questions at DPS are certainly acceptable. Newly acquired Joon-hyuk “Bunny” Chae joins KariV and Projectile DPS Brady “Agilities” Girardi. The three will all work towards higher aspirations than SoOn’s shadow.
Lead by 2018 World Cup standout Pan-seung “Fate” Koo, the Korean tank core stands tall as one of the best in the Overwatch League. Coupled with flex tank Indy “SPACE” Halpern’s big play ability on D.Va and Zarya, Los Angeles certainly seems poised for a successful second season.
Week 3: New Your Excelsior 3/1
Week 3 finally unites the Defiant roster with their veteran flex support Neko. Unfortunately for Toronto, Week 3 also unites them with the 2018 regular champions, the New York Excelsior.
NYXL is perpetually ranked in a top three spot heading into 2019, with good reason. The talented roster is highlighted with top performers at all positions.
Their impressive DPS core of Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park, Hae-seong “Libero” Kim and Do-hyeon “Pine” Kim added even more depth this offseason with the promotions of Yeon-kwan “Nenne” Jeong and Yeon-oh “Fl0w3R” Hwang from their XL2 Contenders roster.
NYXL certainly has a high damage potential, but an elite tank core of Dong-gyu “Mano” Kim and Tae-hong “MekO” Kim offers a first class level of protection. Not to mention the presence of 2018 Overwatch League MVP Sung-hyeon “JJoNak” Bang and company supporting the impressive squad. NYXL has their sights set on redemption for their early exit of the Inaugural Season playoffs. Toronto will certainly have to dig deep for any hope to overcome such a resolute opponent.
Week 3: Boston Uprising 3/3
As Week 3 comes to a close, Toronto may be on the outside looking in towards a Stage 1 playoff spot. Their next opponent; the Boston Uprising, have been linked to several comparisons with the Toronto Roster. Each team shares a main tank with proficiency on Winston, and each roster carries a flex support with dangerous skill on Zenyatta.
The Boston Uprising have had a tumultuous offseason. Apart from the exposure of their internal management issues, a key piece to their undefeated run in Stage 3 now sits on the Defiant’s roster.
The flex support matchup will be fun to watch. Neko’s replacement in Boston will remain Min-seok “AimGod” “Jeff” Kwon. AimGod subbed in for Neko multiple times in the team’s middling Stage 4 performance. Despite their four and six record, AimGod produced some solid performances in Neko’s absence. Many stats landed in Neko’s favor; however, AimGod did manage to average only six deaths per map compared to Neko’s eight. Survivability is reliability.
All that being said, fans can expect competitive and energetic matches going forward between these northern contenders. With a slow start a possibility for Toronto, Week three is where they will have to dig deep and establish the type of team they want to be for the rest of 2019.
Week 4: Chengdu Hunters 3/7
Heading into Week 4, Toronto’s next opponent will be one of the two teams absent of Korean talent. The Chengdu Hunter’s roster is completely made up of talented Chinese players. Several of whom impressed at the 2018 World Cup.
Both Ma “LateYoung” Tianbin and Li “Yveltal” Xianyao each competed for Team China at the 2018 World Cup. Yveltal is regarded as the strongest main support in China, while LateYoung is no slouch at off-tank himself. These two bring some much needed experience for the young roster.
As for the remaining roster, Hitscan DPS player Zhang “YangXiaoLong” Zhihao’s current visa situation leaves him unable to join his team in the States. With YangXiaoLong and team management surely looking for a fix to the issue, Chengdu is left with long time Overwatch veteran Lo “Baconjack” Tzu-Heng left to pick up the pieces.
Baconjack has been out of the Overwatch loop for some time. Recently, he’s spent time with Flash Wolves PUBG team before beginning his stint with the Hunters. Baconjack joins projectile DPS Yi “JinMu” Hu as the perceived starting DPS core for the Hunters, assuming YangXiaoLong’s visa situation drags on into the season.
The Hunters roster is surrounded with questions. With Mandarin as their dominant language, Chengdu will rely on their coaching and team communication to outplay much of the field this season.
Week 4: Hangzhou Spark 3/9
Finally, to close out week four and Stage 1 for Toronto, the Defiant will face off against the pink warriors of the Hangzhou Spark. On top of owning one of the more popular color schemes in the League, they also feature some of the top talent from Team China.
Star main tank Xu “guxue” Qiulin, who lead a spectacular team performance by Team China is accompanied by his DPS counterpart, Cai “Krystal” Shilong. Both displayed incredible world class talent, and now are accompanied by a powerful Korean core sure to pack a punch.
The Chinese duo will be accompanied by main support Ho-jin “iDK” Park. The talented support has dominated Chinese Contenders for the last two seasons on his former team, Lucky Future Zenith. With his experience in communication with Chinese teammates in hand, iDK will become the nucleus for Hangzhou.
Toronto and Hangzhou potentially could fall in similar standing by this time. Toronto’s loss of Neko and difficult early season, will balance out with Neko’s return and a rejuvenated roster. Hangzhou on the other hand shares a difficult schedule, but retains high expectations amid their spicy signings. If they fail to meet these expectations, this matchup could be a win and move on situation.
Stage 1 will throw some of the Overwatch League’s best talent at Toronto. Regarded as a potential sleeper candidate for Season 2, the Defiant won’t have their work cut out for them early.
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